Nosh News: Everybody Loves a Cheeseball Edition

April is National Florida Tomato Month.

Happy National Cheeseball Day! Don’t have the time (or the stomach) to ball up a wad of brie so you can celebrate? Well, Sunday, April 22, is National Jelly Bean Day. And you’ve got all of April to commemorate National Florida Tomato Month, along with National Soft Pretzel Month and the oh-so-unspecific National Food Month. Where did all these food holidays — seems like there’s at least one for just about every day on the calendar — come from, anyway?  Bon Appétit explains it all: How National Food Holidays Became a Thing.

When most people look at a hunk of cheese, they envision a snack or a meal. Painter Mike Geno, however, sees artistic inspiration. The Philadelphia artist has made a career out of painting portraits of beautiful blues, richly textured cheddars and other visions de fromage. Jeff Gordinier’s profile of Geno for the New York Times, Like the Mona Lisa, but on a Cracker, includes some delicious tidbits about the artist’s process (yes, he does devour his subjects after he’s polished off a canvas) and a slideshow of some of his works.

Know what goes great with cheese? Beer. If you’re looking for a new microbrew to savor, the Trot Line’s got you covered. The Atlanta-based website’s coverage of Southern culture includes detailed, thoughtful reviews of beers from all over the region. Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale from Mississippi brewery Lazy Magnolia, for example, sounds like a must-try to me. If you prefer the hard stuff, The Trot Line’s writers have a lot to say about bourbon, as well.

Nosh News: Growth Spurt Edition

Whenever I’m in Athens, Ga., I always fuel up at Jittery Joe’s. Several of the microroaster’s excellent coffee blends are now available at Earth Fare here in Tallahassee.

The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, which runs the Red Hills Online Farmers Market, just announced its Growing Here Workshop Series. During three sessions, local farmers and other agricultural experts will share their knowledge about growing fruits and vegetables successfully in our local climate. The series kicks off with a workshop about planting dates, site selection and seed varieties, 1 p.m.-5 p.m. January 8 at Turkey Hill Farm. Speakers include Louise Divine of Turkey Hill Farm, Lilly Anderson Messec of Native Nurseries and Katie Harris of Full Earth Farm. The series continues with a workshop on organic pest management on Feb. 12 at Miccosukee Root Cellar and a soil health workshop on March 11 at Full Earth Farm in Quincy. Admission is $15 per workshop or $40 for all three workshops for Red Hills Online Farmers Market members; $30 per workshop or $80 for all three workshops for non-members. (Red Hills Online Farmers Market membership is $10, which is reimbursable for members of the Bread and Roses Food Cooperative). For more information about the Growing Here series and to register online, visit the Red Hills Online Farmers Market website.

Throughout my culinary life, cupcakes have been very good to me, the not-so-skilled baker. Homemade cupcakes work for just about any occasion and nearly everyone greets them with glee, even though they’re much simpler to make than, say, a pie or a torte. I never need an excuse to eat cupcakes, but National Cupcake Day on Thursday, Dec. 15, does present me with an opportunity to celebrate by whipping up a flavor I’ve never baked before: Hummingbird Cupcakes, a Southern classic that intrigues me.

Noted around town: Chipotle is now offering, at long last, brown rice for burritos and bowls; Earth Fare has begun carrying coffee beans from one of my favorite indie caffeine purveyors, Jittery Joe’s in Athens, Ga. I recommend the microroaster’s organic, full-bodied Morning Ride blend.

Nosh News: How Many More Shopping Days? Edition

Georgia chef Hugh Acheson’s cookbook, “A New Turn in the South,” would make an ideal gift for anyone who loves Southern cuisine.

If you celebrate a December holiday with a gift-giving tradition, welcome to shopping crunchtime. I’ve rounded up some ideas for great gifts that will delight the people in your life who love food (and isn’t that just about everyone?).

Want to give a far-away friend or family member a taste of Tallahassee? You can’t go wrong with Barb’s Gourmet Brittles. Classic peanut, dark chocolate pecan coconut, orange macadamia, even a virgin variety that’s nut-free … you can choose a different flavor of brittle for each name on your list. While you’re browsing at the shop on Lake Ella, snag a scoop of the excellent housemade ice cream, too.

The New York Times recently released its list of Notable Cookbooks of 2011, and every single title looks giftworthy. I’ve put “A New Turn in the South”, Hugh Acheson’s guidebook to the contemporary Southern cuisine he’s serving up to great acclaim in Georgia, on my own wish list.

Looking for some unique, ecofriendly options? Check out TreeHugger’s guide to green gifts for foodies. I love their idea of making a donation in your giftee’s name to Bluebell Giving, which lets the recipient choose which charity to support.

I’m always on the hunt for a little something sweet to send my best friend for the holidays. Since he’s vegan, I usually turn to Vosges, which turns out some of the most creative, delicious chocolates I’ve ever eaten, including quite a few varieties that are made without any animal products. My top picks from this year’s holiday catalog are the Luscious Vegan Truffle Collection, the Creole Bombalina Hazelnuts and the Aztec Elixir Couture Cocoa.